One of the benefits of using Orlando, Florida-based GolfNow is online booking of rounds of golf at many courses around the world at discounted fares. For the convenience of online booking around the clock for greens fees in advance (or even day-of) there’s a booking fee.
Well yesterday a friend and I wanted to play a round at an Augusta-based course (no, not that course) and my friend told me to use GolfNow.
I found my course, I found a time, I selected two players, and clicked BOOK.
The next page gave me an error message.
Okay, fine. But under this error message I was asked again if I wanted to book a round so I tried it again.
Tried to book again, and got the same error message. I clicked the link to send an email to customer service and explained the problem. After waiting an hour and hearing nothing I called the 800 number.
The customer service representative asked for the email address for the account with which I was booking, and I told him I didn’t have an account. He said “Oh, well, that’s why you have the error message – you have to have an account first.”
Well, okay, if that’s the case, why didn’t the GolfNow booking process indicate as such instead of giving me an error message? If that’s the problem, maybe the site should direct me to create an account instead of making a phone call.
Unfortunately it is not clear on the website how to create an account. Here’s what I saw.
I see a “sign in” which I presume is for those with accounts. I also see something about an email club. Is that the account the CSR is referencing? If so, that is very unappealing – as an infrequent golfer, the last thing I want is a bunch of emails from a club.
I clicked “sign in” to see what happens, and it takes me to an account creation page. Well that’s good. I’m glad I found that by clicking something that indicates it isn’t where you create an account. I create my account, but then the site doesn’t directly take me to where I can immediately use that account to book rounds. I click the GolfNow logo at the top, just to go back to the beginning.
I again attempt to book a twosome at the course…and again I get the error message.
I call customer service back and get a different CSR. They ask where I’m trying to book, what time, and how many. The CSR brings up the control panel to book tee times on his computer…which takes a while.
So we wait. And wait. And wait. I get put on hold while the control panel comes up.
When it comes up, the CSR says the request is available but he has to call the course to book it. I get put on hold again so he can call the course and get it set up…basically the same thing I’d do if I wasn’t using GolfNow.
We’re about 15 minutes into this call now and about 30 minutes into the entire process. When I’m taken off hold I’m told I am all set up and asked if I want to pay for the full cost now or pay the greens fees at the course and the online booking fee now. Wait, I have to pay an online booking fee for something that wasn’t booked online? I tell the CSR that I’ll just book my own greens fees by calling the course directly and let them have all the money GolfNow was going to charge for this “convenience.” The discount I saw on GolfNow (Save 19%!) was almost completely absorbed by the online booking fee and taxes. Some discount.
After calling the course and realizing that their call-in greens fees were a lot higher than GolfNow’s retail price for a round, I reluctantly tried to re-book with GolfNow. I tried online booking again, which failed. I called customer service and booked the round and paid the “online booking fee.”
So about 40 minutes worth of process navigation and burned cellular phone minutes probably saved me around $10.
What went wrong?
First, I don’t know how often error messages occur with online bookings, but GolfNow should figure out why. They could manually book my tee time, but the system put in place to make it easy for ME to book my tee time was not working. As a result it costs MY time to talk with customer service, and it costs GolfNow money to pay for the customer service rep’s time.
By fixing the website and having marketing and IT collaborate on the path a potential customer is to follow – making sure accounts can easily be created, that messages on the website direct customers to the right locations, etc. – is a good idea so that customers aren’t deterred from just giving up and GolfNow losing the sale all together. In addition, the less a customer requires calling customer service means the less investment the company has to put into customer service representatives.
Next, GolfNow should really re-evaluate their root cause analysis. Clearly it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have an account that caused the website to not book my fee. In fact, I didn’t even get a real reason. All I learned as a customer is that if I’m willing to put up with 40 minutes of time spent in a process I can save about ten dollars.
Has anyone else had good experience with GolfNow? How does it work at optimal condition when everything is fixed? Is it convenient? How long does it take to book a round?